Sweden charges Serb over Kosovo war crimes

A Serbian man was charged by a Swedish prosecutor on Tuesday in connection with his role in a massacre in the village of Cuska in Kosovo in 1999, in which 40 people were killed.

Milic Martinovic, a 34-year-old Serb arrested in Sweden in April 2010, faces charges of “aggravated crimes against humanity, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated arson,” in connection with the massacre, according to the prosecution charge sheet.

“I am sure that I’ll get a conviction in this case,” prosecutor Lars Hedvall told Swedish public radio.

Martinovic had been a member of the special PJP police force that entered Cuska on May 14, 1999 in search of “terrorists.”

Armed and in uniform, he was among the troops who took a large number of people captive, killed 31 of the 40 people murdered there that day, attempted to kill three others, burned down houses and robbed and manhandled civilians.

While the charge sheet does not accuse Martinovic of actually pulling the trigger, it points out that he “through his presence on the scene, armed and in a uniform, participated in maintaining an atmosphere of violence, threats and control that was necessary for the actions, including the organised killing and plundering to take place.”

The document describes for instance how Martinovic repeatedly stood guard

as his comrades shot and killed civilians, how he shot at the ground and forced residents to hand over gold and other valuables.

The trial is set to start next Monday and is expected to last until December.

Swedish police last year also arrested a second man suspected of taking part in the same massacre, but no charges have yet been brought against him.

The 1998-1999 conflict left around 13,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Kosovo for several European countries. Most of the victims were ethnic Albanians.

The Kosovo war between Serbian security forces and separatist ethnic Albanians was brought to an abrupt end in mid-1999 when an 11-week NATO bombing campaign ousted the Belgrade-controlled forces.

Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, but Serbia still considers the territory its sovereign territory.

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Swedish law to include crimes against humanity

Sweden is set to introduce crimes against humanity into its penal code in a move to tackle widespread, systematic, and inhumane crimes abroad in Swedish courts.

Swedish law to include crimes against humanity

Sweden said Friday it would introduce crimes against humanity into its penal code to allow it to judge such cases in its own courts, following similar moves by France and Canada.

The change, which also expands laws on genocide and war crimes, is part of a justice ministry bill expected to pass easily in parliament and come into force in July 2014, the Swedish press said.

Sweden's Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask, told the daily Svenska Dagbladet that the current penal code required some improvements and "the way this kind of serious crime is dealt with will become much clearer".

Crimes against humanity, according to the definition in the bill, include murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution and any other inhumane act or omission committed against civilians, in a widespread or systematic manner.    

Several people in Sweden have been sentenced since 2006 for war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars.    

In June this year the country's first trial for genocide concluded with a life sentence for the Swede of Rwandan origin, Stanislas Mbanenande.